CSAC Bulletin Article

Comments Due Soon to Influence Broadband Network Location, Capacity, and Affordability

August 19, 2021

Following California’s historic $6 billion investment in broadband infrastructure through the enactment of SB 156, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a ruling requesting comment earlier this month to collect recommendations for key aspects of a statewide middle-mile broadband network. CSAC and CPUC staff are holding a briefing and listening session for local officials tomorrow, August 20, 2021 to ensure their voices and needs are included and represented.

Signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last month, SB 156 includes $3.25 billion for the creation of a statewide open-access middle-mile network, which will be owned by the state and built along much of the State’s highway system. This network will be available to all internet providers on non-discriminatory terms, making it faster and cheaper for new and existing providers to build last-mile infrastructure to homes and businesses with little or no broadband access. The middle-mile network can also be directly available to anchor institutions along its route.

While the CPUC has already developed a preliminary map for where middle-mile network fiber will be laid, they have asked for comments from stakeholders and the public for suggestions before finalizing the plan. This gives counties an opportunity to influence whether the network passes by or connects to health care facilities, schools, public safety operations, government offices, and other important community anchor institutions. The Commission is also calling for input related to existing infrastructure, priority areas, affordability, long term leases, interconnection, and network route capacity.

Opening comments from formal parties to the proceeding are due Friday, August 27, and reply comments are due Tuesday, September 7. Individual members of the public are encouraged to file informal comments using the public comment portal. These may be filed at any time, and there is no comment deadline. Instructions for submitting public comment and learning more about how to participate can be found at the CPUC’s website.

The briefing with CPUC staff is open to county officials, including supervisors, executive staff, IT directors, economic development officials, and others. The details are as follows:

Date: Friday, August 20, 2021 at 3 p.m.
Zoom link: click here
Meeting ID: 856 838 0674
Passcode: w48gS3fQ

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